I watched Drive the other night, a movie that takes place in California about a nigh unstoppable badass, a possible sociopath with an almost supernatural ability regarding cars, whose enemy is a crime lord who will stop at nothing to kill him. Before putting the DVD into the player I was wondering if it would have any thematic connection to a certain video game, namely Driver: San Francisco, a video game that takes place in California about a nigh unstoppable badass, a possible sociopath with an almost supernatural ability regarding cars, whose enemy is a crime lord who will stop at nothing to kill him.
Beyond that superficial comparison of the details, the movie and the game don’t really have much in common. Drive is a mostly slow paced affair concerned with character development and the main character’s relationships with others, punctuated by sudden violence, which brings a grim underworld into the stark light of day. Driver concerns an internal cerebral battle, in which the violence is presented as so over the top that the player is lucky that he doesn’t consider the main bad guy a Saturday morning cartoon villain. Really I could pack it in there and call it a night—save for one thing. Ryan Gosling’s character is solely defined as a person by his most potent ability: driving. He has no name, no past, and all the human contact that he has is filtered through driving. The dates that he goes out on? They’re night drives. The business ventures that serve as his main means of human contact? They are his job at a garage and stock car racing. He meets his “love interest” by helping her with her car. In an action video game, the protagonist is solely defined by the verb that the player uses to interact with the game. In the case of Driver: San Francisco and John Tanner, that verb is “drive.”